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Filing an Amended Tax Return With the IRS

Filing an Amended Tax Return With the IRS

Did you make a mistake in your tax return, or did you notice that you lost a valuable tax credit or deduction? You can file an amended return to effect the correction. Filing an amended return with the IRS is a simple process. This article includes detailed instructions on when and how to amend your tax return using Form 1040-X.

Mistakes happen, even in the tax return. Therefore, the IRS allows taxpayers to correct their tax returns if they discover an error in a tax return that has been filed already. Here's what you should know about filing an amended tax return.

When to file an amended tax return

There are occasions when you need to amend your return and time when you shouldn't. Here are some common situations that require amendment:

  • Incorrectly claimed tax return status.

  • You forgot to claim taxable income in your tax return.

  • You need to remove or add a dependent.

  • You realize that you cannot claim a tax or credit deduction.

  • You realize that you have claimed an expense, deduction, or credit for which you were not eligible to claim.

Generally, you don't need to file an amended tax return if you find typing or math errors in a newly filed tax return. Often, the IRS will correct these types of errors on its own and, if necessary, send you an invoice for the additional tax due or a refund if the error is in your favor.

Before you file an amended tax return, ensure that the IRS has already processed the tax return that you need to amend. This way, you can ensure that the IRS does not confuse your initial return with the amended return. If you have already received your tax refund, you know that the IRS has already processed your return.

Please note that the IRS limits the time required to file an amended return to claim a refund to:

  • Within three years from the initial submission date or

  • Within two years from the payment of the tax due for that year, if that date is later.

If you are outside this window, you will not be able to request a refund by amending your return.

How to file an amended tax return

The process involved in filing an amended return is quite simple. Here's a step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Get your documents.

Collect the original tax return and any new documents needed to prepare the amended tax return.

If you need to adjust your return income, you may have a new or modified W-2 or 1099 Form. If you were unable to claim a tax deduction or credit, you would need documentation to support the new deduction you are requesting, such as a charitable donation receipt, a new or amended Form 1098, or Form 1098-T to claim an education credit.

Step 2: Get the right forms.

The Internal Revenue form for amending a return is Form 1040-X. You will also need the forms that will be affected by your change. For example, if you are changing your itemized deductions, you will also need a copy of Form A for that fiscal year. To change your tax return to add additional interest or dividends, you will need a copy of Schedule B. Changes to the income or expenses of a business or trade will require Schedule SE and Schedule C. Updating your capital gains and losses will require Form 8949 and Schedule D, and so on.

Step 3: Fill out Form 1040-X

Form 1040-X contains three columns:

  • Column A: This column indicates the figures previously entered in your income tax return. Use the copy of your tax return collected in step 1 to complete this column.

  • Column B: This column indicates how the initial return amounts are expected to increase or decrease. For example, if you change your gross income to include $150 of the missing interest income on your pre-filled tax return, enter $150 in row 1, column B.

  • Column C: This column indicates the correct amount. Just add the values from column A and column B and enter the result here.

In Part III of Form 1040-X, you will need to clearly explain why you filed an amended return.

Step 4: Submit the amended forms.

From the fiscal year 2019, you can file amended tax returns electronically. To amend a return for the year 2018 or earlier, you will need to print Form 1040-X and any other forms that you are amending. Attach all the necessary supporting documents, such as:

  • Any new or amended W-2 or 1099 form

  • Other forms or schedules that have changed, such as Schedule A if you have updated your itemized deductions

  • Your CP2000 notification if you amend your tax return due to a notification you received from the IRS

Please mail all documents and forms to the address provided in the instructions.

If your tax amendment results in a tax increase, you will need to make an additional tax payment. For an amended return completed electronically, you can make an electronic payment through the IRS website. Otherwise, you can mail a check with the amendment. By making a payment now, instead of waiting for the Internal Revenue to send an invoice, you can minimize interest and penalties.

Note that if you are filing an amended tax return in paper format instead of electronic, the IRS may take eight to 12 weeks to process the amendment. Wait for approximately three weeks from the filing date for the information to show up in the IRS system.

If you are amending your federal income tax return, you will likely also need to file an amended income tax return in your state. Each state has its own form of tax return amendment. 

Remember, if you owe a lot of taxes or received a large refund, update your withholding tax.



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